6 May 2011

Review: THE KEEPER OF LOST CAUSES, Jussi Adler-Olsen

Translated by Tiina Nunnally
Published Penguin Group (USA Aug 2011)
My copy: an Advance Uncorrected Proof from NetGalley

Marketing copy provided by the publisher
Jussi Adler-Olsen is Denmark's premier crime writer. His books routinely top the bestseller lists in northern Europe, and he's won just about every Nordic crime-writing award, including the prestigious Glass Key Award-also won by Henning Mankell, Stieg Larsson, and Jo Nesbo. Now, Dutton is thrilled to introduce him to America.

The Keeper of Lost Causes, the first installment of Adler-Olsen's Department Q series, features the deeply flawed chief detective Carl M├śrck, who used to be a good homicide detective-one of Copenhagen's best. Then a bullet almost took his life. Two of his colleagues weren't so lucky, and Carl, who didn't draw his weapon, blames himself.

So a promotion is the last thing Carl expects.

But it all becomes clear when he sees his new office in the basement. Carl's been selected to run Department Q, a new special investigations division that turns out to be a department of one. With a stack of Copenhagen's coldest cases to keep him company, Carl's been put out to pasture. So he's as surprised as anyone when a case actually captures his interest. A missing politician vanished without a trace five years earlier. The world assumes she's dead. His colleagues snicker about the time he's wasting. But Carl may have the last laugh, and redeem himself in the process.

My take

By 2007 Carl Morck had been in the Danish police force for 25 years. He was once an experienced criminal investigator who lived and breathed for his work. He used to be an elegant man whom people noticed. But all that changed the day he and his team were sent to a murder investigation where hidden snipers killed one them, paralysed a second, and took away Morck's fire.

Six months on, Morck is back at work but a bit of an embarrassment that his superiors don't how to handle. The answer comes in the shape of a new section, Department Q, that Morck will head, that will deal only with unsolved crimes designated as cases "deserving special scrutiny."

The first case Morck decides to deal with is a high profile one of popular politician Merete Lynggaard who vanished from a ferry from Germany docking in Copenhagen Harbour in 2002. Successfully solving this case will be a big feather in the cap for Department Q.

Department Q consists of Carl Morck and his assistant, a political refugee from Syria, a civilian called Hafez el-Assad. Assad is primarily meant to do clerical and cleaning duties but as Morck increasingly involves him in the investigation, it becomes obvious that Assad has experience and talents no-one knows about. They make an unlikely but strangely complementary detective duo.

Their investigation into Merete Lynggaard's disappearance reveals elementary pathways that the original team missed and sloppy methodology. As they begin to make progress, the investigation into the shooting of Morck's team six months before ramps up, and Morck himself has panic attacks over what it will reveal.

Book website

This was a great read. My rating 4.8

I certainly hope to read a sequel.

I am counting THE KEEPER OF LOST CAUSES in e-book challenge, Nordic Challenge 2011, translated, and new-to-me authors.


Maxine Clarke said...

Is this the same as "Mercy"? (Have not read your review as if it is the same I am just starting to read it)

Dorte H said...

For Maxine and everyone else: Yes, this is "Mercy" in the UK.

A fine review, Kerrie, and I am always happy to see my countryman get good reviews. For once we have exported one of the best.

".. an unlikely but strangely complementary detective duo" is very precise.

Anonymous said...

Kerrie - Thanks for this fine review. I've just read Dorte's fine review, and it's really nice to see that you liked this one very much, too. It goes on my TBR.

steufel said...

I love his books. The second books is maybe even better than the first one. And I can't wait for the third one which will be releases in Aigust here in Germany.


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